Editors' Choice 2013: LifeProof iPhone Case

Protect your phone from anything, no bulk required.

Everyone wants to pack their iPhone. But no one wants to see it ruined by the elements. Water, snow, sand, and fumbles can be fatal for the devices, which have become standard backcountry mapping and video- or photo-shooting equipment for many hikers. These cases, which are currently available to fit the 4/4S and 5 versions and will soon be available for some Android models, are the sleekest waterproof cases we’ve found (less than 70 mm wide, they’re only slightly larger than the phone itself). The press-together, O-ring-sealed covering forms a hard shell that slides into pockets. A rubberized band around the perimeter helps prevent fumbles and adds additional protection to the screen.

In Big Bend National Park, while boulder hopping for a good photo angle, one tester and her phone took an accidental dip in the Rio Grande—and her phone remained bone-dry. Our testers snapped photos, shot video, made calls, and texted friends in snow, dust, and rain from Texas to Tennessee to Tasmania, with no reported failures after more than 500 collective days of testing. LifeProof guarantees the case will protect your phone in up to 6.5 feet of water and withstand a drop from the same height. Our only complaints? To use headphones, you need to remove a small screw, which is easy to misplace. And sound quality suffers a bit, especially in speakerphone mode. Tip: Pop open the bottom charger cover to boost volume. $70 (4/4S), $80 (5); 1.1 oz.; lifeproof.com

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